Weekender: Listen — Poetry and How It's Read, Concerts

Stage group with multiple colorful costumes
Pamyua will give a performance of Inuit tradition this weekend at the Mondavi Center. (Courtesy photo)

This week, the UC Davis featured podcast is about poetry reading, so gain insight into this complex reading method by listening. There's plenty of other listening opportunities, with concerts and other performances. There are two events at Mondavi on Sunday. Read on for plenty to do this weekend both virtually and in-person.

Podcast: ‘The Poet’s Voice’ describes the vocal complexities of reading poetry out loud

Scholars who write about or analyze poetry read out loud usually do so in a subjective and impressionistic way. But UC Davis experts have empirically analyzed the complexities of these vocal performances, based on pitch patterns and speed, volume, pauses, repetition and other characteristics. Now researchers are analyzing the performances of 101 African American women poets.

In this episode of the UC Davis podcast Unfold, the researchers discuss why they embarked on the project and what they’ve discovered, and the hosts cue up some remarkable poetry.

In this episode: 

  • Marit MacArthur, lecturer with the UC Davis University Writing Program and faculty affiliate with the Performance Studies Graduate Group
  • Howard Rambsy, professor of literature, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville 

In season 3, Unfold and hosts Amy Quinton and Kat Kerlin bring listeners stories of awe, wonder and discovery as they explore curiosity-driven research at UC Davis.

The award-winning podcast launches a new episode every Tuesday through Nov. 23.

Unfold is available free, on demand at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon’s TuneIn, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. It is produced by Cody Drabble. Original music for Unfold comes from UC Davis alumnus Damien Verrett and Curtis Jerome Haynes. Follow Unfold on Twitter at @Unfoldpodcast.

Noon concert features Brahms and Schumann

Thursday, Nov. 18, 12:05-1 p.m., Recital Hall, Ann E. Pitzer Center, free, A Shinkoskey Noon Concert

Performers include Dagenais Smiley, violin and UC Davis lecturer in music, Chase Spruill IV, violin, Cassandra Lynne Richburg, viola, Susan Lamb Cook, cello and UC Davis lecturer in music, I-Hui Chen, piano and UC Davis lecturer in music.

The program features Clara Schumann: Piano Trio in G Minor, op. 17, Johannes Brahms: Piano Quintet in F Minor, op. 34.

Still Will Be Heard tonight and tomorrow

Thursday, Nov. 18, 7:30 p.m., Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m., Jackson Hall

Music by Liz Queler & Seth Farber and Book by Liz Queler & Edna St. Vincent Millay

During her father's last years suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, singer and composer Liz Queler discovered a new and unexpected refuge in the words of the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay. Still Will Be Heard is the culmination of that burst of inspiration and renewed creativity. This music theater piece features 17 of Millay’s poems set to Liz and her partner Seth Farber's eclectic blend of folk, rock, jazz and bluegrass music. The songs, interspersed with spoken words culled from the writings of both women, take us on a journey by turns playful, dark, fierce and beautiful. 

Find more information and purchase tickets here

Inuit soul music at Jackson Hall

Sunday, Nov. 21, 2 p.m., Jackson Hall

Inuit soul music. Tribal funk. However you describe it, a Pamyua performance is a joyful expression of Indigenous culture. Formed in 1995, the group has created its own genre that merges traditional Inuit drumdance melodies with R&B vocal styles. Proud to represent Indigenous culture, the group believes unity is possible though music and dance and the members interpret Inuit traditions masterfully with joy and sincerity. The response to this message is tremendous as the group is a symbol of pride for Alaska’s indigenous people and to all who see them perform. 

Find more information and purchase tickets here.

Veronica Swift performs on Sunday

Sunday, Nov. 21, 7:30 p.m., Jackson Hall

In 2019, Veronica Swift captivated Mondavi Center audiences with four thrilling nights of jazz standards. At just 27 years old, Swift has built a résumé that even many late-career jazz singers would envy: tours as a featured vocalist with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and Chris Botti; a guest collaboration with Michael Feinstein; engagements at A-list clubs like Birdland, Jazz Standard, Dizzy’s Club and Jazz Showcase; and gigs at top festivals including Monterey, Montreal and Telluride, where she’s headlined. Her latest release, This Bitter Earth, shows immense growth from an artist that already appeared to be at the top of her game. Enjoy the rise of this meteoric talent as she makes her Mondavi Center return.

Find more information and purchase tickets here.

Woman in veil, black and white image
Veronica Swift performs this weekend at the Mondavi.

UC Davis Symphony Orchestra presents ‘Amsterdam, Helsinki and Bali’

Nov. 20, 7-9 p.m., Jackson Hall, Mondavi Center

Christian Baldini, director and conductor

The UC Davis Symphony will present  ‘Amsterdam, Helsinki and Bali’ including Mathilde Wantenaar: Prélude à une nuit américaine, Colin McPhee: Tabuh-Tabuhan, Jennifer Reason and Adrián Zaragoza, piano in conjunction with the LUCE Conference, “Rethinking the History of Indonesian Music”, and Jean Sibelius: Symphony No. 2.

$12 Students and Children / $24 Adults

Find more information here.

Wayang Bali (Indonesian Shadow Puppet Play) is Friday 

Friday, Nov. 19, 7-9:30 p.m., Sconyers Plaza, North of the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre, Mondavi Center

  • Larry Reed, Artistic Director and Dalang
  • Carla Fabrizio, Lisa Gold, Paul Miller, Sarah Willner, gamelan
  • Katie Harrell, vocalist
  • Fred C. Riley III, assistant

Presented in conjunction with the conference Rethinking the History of Indonesian Music, a conference made possible by the Henry Luce Foundation.

Wayang Bali, the Balinese Shadow Play (which features a live gamelan accompaniment), is one of the most revered traditional art forms in the world. 

According to Balinese philosophy, a wayang performance is a symbol of the cosmos. The dalang (Shadow Master) represents God; the screen represents the world, including the atmosphere; the damar (oil lamp) is the sun and the banana log underneath the screen is the earth on which the creatures walk; the wayangs (puppet characters) are the creatures. The accompanying gender music represents irama djaman, which means in phase with the periods of history.

Plots for the shadow play are drawn from the Mahabharata myth cycle. Five brothers are pitted against one hundred jealous cousins in a struggle for power involving gods, demons, magical weapons, and the inevitable beautiful princess.

Wayang Bali takes place in two languages simultaneously: the ancient language and the language of the audience.

Dancers in native costumes
(Courtesy photo)

$12 Students and Children / $24 Adults

Conference discussion Nov. 20

In addition to the performance, there will be a conference titled “Rethinking the History of Indonesian Music” on Nov. 20, 8:45 a.m.-5 p.m at Vanderhoef Studio Theatre at the Mondavi Center. Six scholars will present 30-minute papers, followed by 10-minute prepared responses from local respondents, on topics related to the broad subject of music history in the geographical area currently identified as the Indonesian archipelago. View the entire schedule and register for the conference here

Graduate student public performance at Wyatt, UC Davis

Friday, Nov. 18, 7 p.m., Wyatt Pavilion Theatre, free and open to the public

Save the date for a public performance of “Cosmic Abundance: Locating My Body In Space” by first-year M.F.A. Gene Thompson.

Thompson will employ contact improv and collective participation in a series of directed movements to establish a “conversation around how our human bodies are created.” Thompson’s “Cosmic Abundance” will include performances from fellow students Seongmin Yoo, Phillip Byrne, Luka Carlsen, Jada S. Haynes, and sound by composer and musician Arvid Tomayko.

Stephen De Staebler’s Masks and Monumental Figures at the Crocker begins Sunday

Sunday, Nov. 21-April 3, 2022

Stephen De Staebler (1933-2011) was an internationally celebrated sculptor and a pivotal figure in the Bay Area Figurative and California clay movements. Over the course of a career that spanned five decades, the artist created powerful, deeply symbolic sculptures in clay and bronze that merged ancient and modern vocabularies while capturing the physical and spiritual struggles inherent to the human condition. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, De Staebler studied religion at Princeton University and spent time at Black Mountain College before moving to the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1950s. There, he studied with the renowned ceramicist Peter Voulkos at UC Berkeley, earning a master’s degree in fine art.

Mask with missing eye
Stephen De Staebler Lavender Face with Missing Eye, 1976. Pigmented stoneware, 7 x 4 x 2 1/2 in. Estate of Stephen De Staebler. (Crocker Museum)

His personal experiences and education profoundly shaped his interest in the human form, which he presented as fragmented and deconstructed, whittled down and built back up through creative exploration and perseverance. A series of clay masks, begun in the mid-1960s, suggest mummification and mortality as well as a raw ruggedness. By exploring the slippages between body and earth, these elegiac forms underscore their inextricable and cyclical relationship. Later in his career, De Staebler started casting figurative sculptures in bronze, a material strong enough to allow him to augment scale while preserving the geological aesthetic central to his art. These monumental sculptures include a mix of winged and totemic figure columns (elements of which were rescued from the clay “boneyard” behind his studio) that are at once otherworldly and startlingly familiar in their ascending and descending qualities.

Find more information here.

Coming Up: Post-Thanksgiving

Talks in the Sound Lab

Nov. 30, 4-5 p.m., Room 101 (“Sound Lab”), Art Annex

Zachary James Watkins is a composer and electronic music artist. He will be visiting UC Davis’s music department several times over the 2021–22 school year, including a May 2022 performance of his piece Affirmative Action with The Living Earth Show (an artist-in-residence guitar and percussion duo), and working with graduate students in composition and creative writing for their collaborative performance work in late May 2022, titled “See / Hear / Say,” which is funded by the Davis Humanities Institute Research and Arts Clusters Grant.

Jazz Bands of UC Davis

Nov. 30, 7-9 p.m., Recital Hall, Ann E. Pitzer Center

Otto Lee, director

For their fall 2021 concert, the Jazz Bands of UC Davis perform music by Chick Corea, Benny Golson, Count Basie, Thad Jones and others.  

$12 Students and Children / $24 Adults (Open Seating)

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